Photo credit: Sean Kilpatrick
The Washington Capitals started something with their first win on Sunday and sought to keep that going against the Ottawa Senators. The Caps brought a sense of coherence and confidence to their game that we haven’t seen in a long time, but the game’s back half started sagging and one bad penalty cost them everything.
The Capitals gave Troy Brouwer his second goal of the year, a net-crashing backhand set up by some hardworking hockey from Wojtek Wolksi and the Caps D-corps. Matt Hendricks deflected Jay Beagle’s wide-angle shot into the net to give the Caps a 2-0 lead. The Senators got on the board with a Condra shot deflected off of Jim O’Brien. Milan Michalek tied it up with a tricky backhand off the faceoff that eluded Neuvirth. Former Cap Sergei Gonchar got the game-winning goal on an undeserved power play in the games final minutes.
Sens beat Caps 3-2.
- The Caps were on a roll in the first period. They played strong possession hockey (even-strength shots were 13-6) and savvy defense. It was their strongest period in months– perhaps their best since the Boudreau era. It didn’t last. The third period saw scarcely any even-strength shots.
- Joel Ward had a bad time with late-game penalties last spring, but he didn’t deserve the repeat of it tonight. The high-sticking penalty is not supposed to be applied when the stick is following through on a shot or pass, but that’s exactly what happened– called by a distant zebra.
- Alex Ovechkin‘s first shot on goal came in the third period, a long bomb from center ice. The captain’s other cotnribution to the game was a slashing penalty with the score tied in the third. I don’t think you can chalk that up to his grinding linemates in Jay Beagle and Joey Crabb.
- Actually, Ovi did attempt The Move, then fell, and then bowled into Senators goalie Craig Anderson. Ovi wasn’t penalized, and I’m not sure he’s even physically capable of embarrassment.
- To be fair, Ovechkin nearly had a perfect repeat of his PPGWG from Sunday late in the game, the shot nudged away by Anderson. That was typically B.A. A.O., but I’d like to see alot moar of it.
- I love Sergei Gonchar. We’re happy to see him contributing to his team, but not like this. Not like this, Sergei.
- Hey, here’s a rule I’m still learning: concealing the puck. Nick Backstrom got called for it early in the first, turning a piping hot power play into a tepid four-on-four. Two power plays were neutralized in the first period– the second was when Kyle Turris was called out for pratfalling on a mild infraction from Mathieu Perreault.
- Can we talk about Big John Erskine? I’ve been dying to talk about John Erskine. Guy got oodles of ice on Tuesday. He hauled his grizzled behind around with some alacrity, laughed off a dance invitation from Chris Neil (whom he could have eaten, digested, and returned to the game once he used the facilities), and even helping out with one monster (blocked) shot.
- Not hockey: did you read our story on Wes Johnson? Really moving stuff.
I’m not really sure what to make of this one. You’re gonna have to help me out.
The Capitals played one or two fantastic periods. The hockey they played in those first two periods could beat most teams in this league, but the third was lacking in offense and made it all too easy for Ottawa to even it up.
The game-winner from Gonch? That’s just what happens when games are officiated by humans. I guess we’re supposed to keep our chins up and hope that bad calls will one day swing our way as well, but bitterness outstrips benevolence right now.
C’est la vie seems like the wrong notion, particularly after a loss in French Canadia. This is a short season, and every point is a bit more precious as a result. The Capitals played winning hockey (or at least OTL-ing hockey) and still came out losers.
So what do we make of that?